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I've been doing a translation for an article and it occured to me that I don't know a one-word antonym for the word 'cheapest'. I tried googling it, and the best suggestion I got was 'expensive', but that's not right since 'the most expensive' is the proper antonym. And it's not a one-word antonym! I understand that it's how the degrees of comparison work with different words, but is there really no direct one-word antonym?

The context is:

After an aesthetic surgery, Lette becomes a success model that is unanimously accepted by the consumerist society in which everything is for sale, and the prettiest package sells _______ (antonym of 'cheapest')

It's from a commentary describing a play by Marius von Mayenburg (Der Hässliche (The Ugly One) in case anyone is interested).

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    From now on, I'm gonna say expensivest. – Zano Feb 28 '17 at 14:32
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    i really like "...and the prettiest package sells." I don't think you need anything after that. – am21 Feb 28 '17 at 16:06
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    If you really want to fill in the blank after the word sells, you need an adverb. You are getting answers with adjectives instead. – David K Feb 28 '17 at 23:06
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    Why does it need to be one word? It's perfectly acceptable to translate English potato into French pomme de terre (apple of the earth). Or just about every German compound word (like Donaudampfschifffahrtgesellschaftskapitänskajütentürschlüssel) into a language where you're not allowed to endlessy string individual words together to form a single word :-) I would just use "for the highest price". – user45532 Mar 1 '17 at 0:52
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    I might also consider "is sold to the highest bidder." This may not be the most direct translation, but it is the most idiomatic. It also employs parallel construction with the "everything is..." construction. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 1 '17 at 16:20

15 Answers 15

164

Priciest - most pricey!

...and the prettiest package is the priciest. (alliteration as a bonus!)

Not in the OED but common in my experience, and covered in both British English (Collins) and American English (Merriam-Webster) dictionaries:

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/priciest

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Priciest

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/priciest

159

In British English, "dearest" is a word which is a direct antonym of "cheapest":

Dearest

  1. British Most expensive.

Oxford Dictionary

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Mar 2 '17 at 3:36
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    In AME I would expect not only for people to not get the intended meaning but to also infer that it is the best or your favorite. – AbraCadaver Mar 3 '17 at 23:24
  • I was about to go with that one – Persistence Mar 7 '17 at 13:38
128

You could use 'costliest'.

... and the prettiest package is the costliest one.

Adjective: Costly

Comparative: Costlier

Superlative: Costliest

When you are looking for similar words, you can find synonyms/antonyms on websites like thesaurus.com or merriam-webster.com etc, and use its superlative (or any required form). For more insight on how to make superlatives, check out degree of comparison of adjectives.

However, please mind the context while using such word-for-word lookup. [Please see @Luke Sawczak's comment below.]

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    Could you possibly add a source/reference to this nice answer? That would greatly add to its value. – Bookeater Feb 28 '17 at 10:41
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    Because the OP is not a native speaker, and not everyone who uses or visits this website is a native speaker, it is therefore good practice to cite a reference, and provide a link. – Mari-Lou A Feb 28 '17 at 11:05
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    This is absolutely the first word that came to my mind, and to me the most reasonable answer thus far. – Darren Ringer Feb 28 '17 at 16:47
  • @Mari-LouA made the changes! – satnam Mar 1 '17 at 13:21
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    Note that "costly" doesn't necessarily imply financial cost. For example, given our context of plastic surgery, a badly done inexpensive operation may be more costly than a well-done expensive operation. – David Richerby Mar 1 '17 at 13:58
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As an antonym out of context, costliest is probably best. It sounds a little odd to my ear to say "sells costliest" though. I would go for "sells highest" instead.

high

2.1 Of large numerical or monetary value.

Sample quotations from Google Books:

"The Hannchen appears to be a slightly better average yielder, while the Smyrna produces a better quality of grain and better yields in the very dry seasons when grain sells highest."

"Washboiler copper sells highest, and old brass coins and medals sell very high."

"It's the wellbred stuff that puts on the nicest finish and sells highest on the market."

  • This is what I had planned on suggesting as soon as I had read the question :). – Teacher KSHuang Mar 1 '17 at 16:17
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    As a single word, highest probably requires too much context to make it clear the intended meaning is "most valuable". e.g. "Which of these is highest?" would probably be confusing without adding "...in price, I mean." – talrnu Mar 2 '17 at 21:46
  • @talrnu Without context I would agree with you: highest is too ambiguous. To be clear: I'm suggesting it for this specific case, not as a single word antonym for "cheapest" in general. – richardb Mar 2 '17 at 22:56
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    I think this is a fine answer. The question specifically asked for a word to fill in the blank after sells in "sells ____." The phrase sells highest provides plenty of context for the reader to understand that highest refers to price and not to the distance from the ground below. – David K Mar 3 '17 at 20:19
  • Of your three quotes, only one has enough context to establish 'sells highest' isn't meant in the sense of 'highest seller'. In the first you can work out that it doesn't mean more grain is sold when it's dry, but coming across the other two I'd assume the second meant the seller sold more copper, and that 'wellbred stuff' sells better. – Pete Kirkham Mar 6 '17 at 9:38
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1) As a few of the others point out, "priciest", "costliest", and "dearest" (highly regional in the sense of "most expensive") are good antonyms of "cheapest".

2) As einpoklum points out, however, "cheapest" would not be a typical adjective in this construction. ("He sells them cheap" is rather familiar for what could also be rendered "He sells them cheaply", "at a cheap price", or what have you.) The likelihood of finding another adjective that can be used in this unusual way is low, which is why some people are proposing things like "best" and "most". Those work syntactically but unfortunately have nothing to do with price without a few extra words of context.

3) As paxdiablo points out, by far the most important observation to be made here is that there is no reason whatsoever to translate one word in the source language to one word in the target language. You are guaranteed to produce a bad translation if you follow such a rule dogmatically, because languages are not 1:1 codes of each other's words!

As an occasional translator, I recommend going for a paraphrase — even if it ends up being a couple more words than you expect — rather than trying to cram the meaning into one word.

My suggestion: "...the prettiest package sells for the most" or "...for the highest price". An option for an idiomatic expression — in fact, probably the most apt cliché in a sentence like this — is "fetches": "...the prettiest package fetches the highest price."

Alternatively, as has also been suggested, if you take away the verb "sells" in favour of the copula "is", you can use an adjective like "priciest" or "costliest" (although in my estimation neither term's nuance is quite right for the passage). This of course requires breaking the one-word rule anyway and changing the structure of the sentence, so I don't see much of an advantage.


Incidentally, use "who is unanimously accepted" instead of "that is unanimously accepted", or simply delete "that is".

Edit: And see Mari-Lou A's note below as long as we're proofreading translations! To resolve "success" model, I assume you want "successful model", but without seeing the source it's hard to know exactly if that's what was meant.

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    Well then if you're nitpicking perfectly valid responses you had better mention that "aesthetic surgery" is normally called cosmetic surgery in English, and "Lette becomes a success model" is ungrammatical. – Mari-Lou A Mar 1 '17 at 17:51
  • Good catch! I'll incorporate those into the answer. Thanks. – Luke Sawczak Mar 1 '17 at 19:15
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The premise is flawed, in my view.

The package sells "cheapest" would be more correctly stated as "sells most cheaply" or "the package is the cheapest". Or "the package is the least expensive (of all the packages)".

You could say "the package is the cheapest (package)", in which case saying it is the most expensive would be "the package is the costliest/dearest (package)".

7

"Priciest" and "costliest" are adjectives describing the item that is most expensive. "Steepest" describes the highest price itself, though this word may have a negative connotation. Apologies if this isn't precisely what you're looking for, but these are all that come to mind.

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    Given is is an English Stack, then: (*answer) or (*have). Also: there is always room for another good suggestion, such as this one. – Mtl Dev Feb 28 '17 at 19:03
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    Don't forget *these if you use *have. – rodolphito Mar 1 '17 at 6:56
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    "Priciest" and "costliest" have already been suggested; "steepest" isn't appropriate because, as you say, it applies only to the price, whereas the question is looking for a word to describe the thing bought for that price. – David Richerby Mar 1 '17 at 14:00
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    Much as these are good antonyms for "cheapest", none of them can complete this particular sentence with much coherence. – Luke Sawczak Mar 1 '17 at 16:28
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    Steepest also holds negative connotations. Something to note. – Slava Knyazev Mar 4 '17 at 20:17
4

Although costliest and priciest serve as the direct antonym of the word, however, in case you would like to take a look at another option, then the following should help:

prettiest package commands a fortune.

Command

to deserve and get something good, such as attention, respect, or a lot of money


In case of fortune, I probably do not need to add a citation.

As pointed out by another reader, using the verb command, which offers a better alternative to the overused auxiliary, the author could also rewrite the sentence as follows:

  • The prettiest package commands the highest price.
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    Neither of those are a single word antonym for cheapest. – JMac Feb 28 '17 at 16:36
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    @JMac: Disinterested is presenting an option to antonym that "solves" the question. – M.Mat Feb 28 '17 at 16:45
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    @M.Mat it doesn't solve the question. The question specifically said a single word request, they even gave an example for a multiple word answer, so clearly they didn't require anything besides a single word answer. If someone requests a single word it isn't really correct to present them with a 2 word option. If there were no single words to represent it then that could be outlined in an answer, but we already know that's not the case. This answer doesn't even suggest it is the most expensive, just relatively expensive, so it is very incorrect. – JMac Feb 28 '17 at 16:47
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    Being that the question is misguided, this is a helpful answer. It's much more important to produce good "English language & usage" than to follow the question to a T. However, despite the added naturalness of "commands a fortune", it is missing the superlative nuance that would match "prettiest" both grammatically and stylistically, so I wouldn't settle on this answer exactly. – Luke Sawczak Mar 1 '17 at 16:24
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    @LukeSawczak I'd argue that this answer isn't particularly helpful. The term he defined was "commands" which is completely irrelevant in this context and just happens to work when referring to a fortune. I'd say to a non-English speaker it may even be detrimental, as it implies that the phrase "commands a fortune" is more common than "is expensive". It seemed like they purposefully obscured the phrase more than necessary. – JMac Mar 1 '17 at 19:36
3

I suggest premium, which is defined as follows by Oxford Living Dictionaries:

premium [as a modifier] Relating to or denoting a commodity or product of superior quality and therefore a higher price.

In the provided context, it would be "for a premium", which uses the slightly different definition of "a sum added to an ordinary price or charge."

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    Hi, chad. Your suggestion seems very reasonable to me, so I can only conclude that the downvoter objected to your not including a source and link to the definitions you quote in your answer. I have supplied these and given you an upvote—but in future posts at English Language & Usage, please identify your sources in your answers. Thanks! – Sven Yargs Mar 2 '17 at 1:38
3

After an aesthetic surgery, Lette becomes a success model that is unanimously accepted by the consumerist society in which everything is for sale, and the prettiest package sells _______

That foreign syntax needs more than one word, maybe:

After his plastic surgery, Lette becomes a star unanimously admired in a consumerist society where everything is for sale, and the prettiest package profits most.

2

You can use highest, due to the context sells ____, it would be understood that you are talking about the price. Compare the expression "buys low and sells high". Alternatively you can use highest-priced.

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Seriously, there's an problem with that question (not in OP's question - in the one OP is quoting). You cannot reasonably, IMHO, fill in an antonym of 'cheapest' and properly complete that sentence. It should be:

... and the prettiest package sells best.

or

... and the prettiest package sells most.

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    The OP is doing a translation, he wants to to be faithful to the original text, and the non-native author uses the term "most expensive" in his/her article. A best-selling product does not mean or imply it is expensive, quite the opposite in fact. Very often the products that sell the most are the ones considered best value for money. Eliminate the verb sell and you have the prettiest package is the most expensive which makes sense. – Mari-Lou A Mar 1 '17 at 10:43
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Choicest also works here, in a slightly more indirect way than some of the other suggestions.

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    "The prettiest package sells choicest" is gobbledegook. – Luke Sawczak Mar 1 '17 at 16:25
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    Fair point - answers the question but doesn't fit this context. – user3490 Mar 1 '17 at 17:16
0

To my mind dearest sounds best. Costliest and priciest sound a bit clumsy to my ear (dare I say it ... American) I would use most costly rather than say costliest and then it is no longer a one word antonym. Dearest would be used through out the English speaking world, except America.

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...the prettiest package sells extravagantly

Would make sense, however the word extravagant doesn't always refer to the price of something, it suggests that the item is a luxury that most people cannot afford.

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